Dogs will have a new place to play this summer after a two-year project to build a dog park recently received approval from the Urbana City Council.
The 2.4-acre park, which will be located in Melvin Miller Park, could be complete as early as July 1, said Audra Bean, a member of the Champaign County Citizens for Canines. The group has spent the previous two years acquiring a not-for-profit status and raising more than $40,000 to build the project. Council members approved a resolution and land use agreement to build the park earlier this month.
“We’ve just been trying anything and everything we can to raise the money,” Bean said.
The park will include fencing around the site, water fountains, waste disposal stations, trash containers and park benches. Urbana did not previously have a park, although they exist in Springfield, Mechanicsburg, Bellefontaine and Xenia, Bean said.
The dog park will be located in the southwest corner of Melvin Miller Park, near the city’s pool.
City workers will lay water lines for the park’s fountains as early as Tuesday, said Chris Stokes, parks superintendent for Urbana.
The group’s biggest challenge was acquiring not-for-profit status, which allowed it to accept donations from local companies, Bean said. She credited U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan’s staff with helping speed the process. Since then they have received assistance from Orbis in Urbana, as well as The Moose, Veterans of Foreign Wars and several other businesses and individuals.
The park will provide several benefits, Bean said. Along with allowing pet owners to socialize, it will allow dogs more opportunities to exercise, and separates pets from joggers, small children and others who use the park.
Construction on the park could begin soon.
In the meantime, the group is also promoting a contest to help name the park. Residents can email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and use the words “dog park” in the subject line. The winning name will receive a check for $100. The deadline is June 30, and the winner will be announced during the park’s grand opening ceremony.
The park will feature one fenced area to enter the facility and another locked fence so dogs cannot run loose outside the park. Members of the organization are also hoping for more businesses and individuals to donate cash to purchase additional park benches and picnic tables. The names of donors will be engraved on the benches and tables.
According to information from the Champaign County Auditor’s Office, there were 7,628 dogs licensed in the county this year.